Adrian Valadez of UC Santa Barbara’s Gevirtz School has been named the winner of the 2020 Maylon-Smith Scholarship. The American Psychological Association Division 44, Society for the Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, presents this annual award to advance research on sexual orientation and gender identity. Valadez’s project, which is also her pre-dissertation project, is entitled Implicit Internalized Binegativity: Measurement Design and Development.
The Malyon-Smith Scholarship is named for two founding past-presidents of the division, the late Alan Malyon and the late Adrienne Smith. It is a fund that annually awards up to $1,000 to selected graduate students in psychology to advance research on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). The award represents one of the division’s major efforts to mentor and support science in LGBT psychology by encouraging the work of young researchers.
Bisexual individuals experience higher rates of mental and physical health disparities compared to their heterosexual, gay, and lesbian counterparts. One potential contributing factor may lie in the complexities of internalized binegativity (IB)—a form of internalized stigma that is specific to bisexuality and that includes negative messaging from both heterosexual and monosexual (e.g. gay and lesbian) populations. IB is most commonly measured using explicit (i.e. self-report) measures in which individuals are asked to respond to a series of questions or statements. However, constructs as complex as internalized stigma beg the question as to whether or not people can have enough insight to accurately report how stigmatized they are and if self-report measures are the only way to quantify such nuanced experiences.
Valadez’s project focuses on the development of a novel implicit measure designed to assess levels of IB among bisexual individuals. Through its development, she will attempt to answer questions regarding the relationship between implicit and explicit IB and assess the predictive capabilities of the measure for mental/ physical health outcomes (e.g. depression, anxiety, alcohol/ drug use, etc.). Not only will this project provide the field with more information about IB and inform further research on implicit self-stigma, but it may also pave the way to new methods of tracking intervention outcomes when working with clients who are trying to reduce levels of internalized stigma.
Adrian M. Valadez is a third-year doctorate student in the Counseling Psychology emphasis in the Department of Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology, working under the direction of Dr. Tania Israel. Prior to attending UCSB, she received her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies from CSU-San Bernardino and her M.S. in Clinical Psychology from CSU-Fullerton. Her research interests largely relate to LGBTQ+ mental health with specific interests in the development of affirming therapeutic interventions and measures, internalized stigma within SGM populations, and consensual non-monogamy.